2014 AFF Suzuki Cup: Malaysia's players rated and slated

FourFourTwo writers assess the individual performances in Malaysia’s 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup campaign, which saw them reaching the final.

GOALKEEPERS

Khairul Fahmi Che Mat - 4/10

He started the tournament as the first-choice goalkeeper and made the joint-most saves in the tournament with 19, sharing the record with Kawin Thamsatchanan albeit playing less games than the Thailand goalkeeper. However, despite boasting a fairly good save-to-shot ratio, he often spilled the ball and put his team in dangerous situations.

Farizal Marlias - 4/10

It was difficult to justify his selection ahead of Khairul Fahmi, as he conceded the same amount of goals as the Kelantan goalkeeper. Farizal also made a crucial mistake in the second leg of the final that ultimately cost Malaysia the crown when he failed to deal with a direct free-kick in the 81st minute, allowing Charyl Chappuis to tuck it home from close range.

Khairul Azhan Khalid - N/A

Although he was named the Best Goalkeeper in the M-League this year, the Pahang custodian was not given a single minute of action.

DEFENDERS

Mahali Jasuli - 4/10

As usual, Mahali was brilliant at going forward to support the attack but looked suspect defensively and often failed to track back immediately. The fact that he was the only natural right-back in the team but was replaced by S. Kunanlan, a winger by trade, in the starting line-up said it all.

The Felda United veteran, who began the tournament as a defensive midfielder but later played as a centre-back, was very vocal at the back, which ensure discipline and focus among his team-mates. Shukor also used his experience well to break up his opponents’ attacking moves.

Zubir Azmi - 6/10

Zubir held the distinction of being the only player to be involved in every single minute from the first group match to the final. However, perhaps due to the lack of rest between fixtures, he tended to struggle and fade off during the closing stages of the matches.

Muslim Ahmad - 3/10

Muslim missed the first group match against Myanmar after picking up a red card in a friendly match prior to the tournament, which ruined his claim for a spot in the starting XI. He played well against Singapore but was horribly exposed by Vietnam in the semi-final first leg.

Fadhli Shas - 4/10

The JDT defender was constantly alert to dangerous situations and dealt with them accordingly, but at the same time, he was too aggressive and often launched himself at his opponents, giving away unnecessary fouls.

Azmi Muslim - N/A

The only outfielder who saw no action during the team’s run to the final.

Afif Amiruddin - 4/10

Afif played a solid game in the second leg of the final before being forced to go off, which incidentally led to Thailand’s late revival. However, against the same opponents in the group stages, the three goals conceded in the match were partly down to his failure to close down on his opponents.

Shukor Adan - 7/10

MIDFIELDERS

Safiq Rahim - 9/10

Singlehandedly carried the national team to the final with his dead ball ability. ‘Nuff said.

Indra Putra Mahayuddin - 8/10

With his incredible workrate and tireless runs, Indra grew in stature as the tournament progressed. Combined well with Mat Yo in both legs of the final that could’ve easily seen more goals scored in Malaysia’s favour if it weren’t for the outstanding performance of Thailand goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan.

Gary Steven Robbat - 3/10

Robbat’s tournament was full with ups and downs, from getting a silly red card in the Myanmar match to brilliantly containing Hariss Harun against Singapore to failing to close down Chanathip Songkrasin in the second leg of the final, allowing the Thai to score the decisive second goal.

S. Kunanlan - 5/10

In a rather unprecedented move, the winger was used as an emergency right-back, after Mahali’s poor display against Vietnam in the first leg of the semi-final. Although Kunanlan perhaps lacked the defensive skills and tactical ability to completely pull it off, he understood his role well and was not afraid to make tackles.

Azamuddin Akil - 4/10

Despite playing as a winger, Azamuddin made more backward passes than forward ones, attempted only one shot and failed to make a single successful cross. However, it was not for the lack of trying as he still offered tremendous energy and enthusiasm.

Badhri Radzi - 2/10

Piya played in a more defensive role than at Kelantan, which backfired as he looked uncomfortable in possession at times and was easily brushed off the ball by his opponents. Among the Malaysia players that played in the middle of the park, he uncharacteristically registered the lowest passing accuracy (55%).

Hafiz Kamal - 2/10

Safiq’s good form in front of goal meant that Hafiz had to play second fiddle to the JDT playmaker. He did get a chance to prove himself in the semi-final first leg, but struggled to cope with the movement of the Vietnamese players. He was promptly replaced by Robbat in that match and played no part in the tournament since.

Baddrol Bakhtiar - 1/10

The Kedah midfielder made three appearances in the tournament, of which all of them were off the bench. Did not get enough time to truly impress and showcase his ability.

FORWARDS

Norshahrul Idlan Talaha - 6/10

Initially looked short of fitness, he slowly regained his attacking instinct as Malaysia went to the final. Norshahrul played a starring role in the final as the Harimau Malaya tried to claw away the 2-0 deficit from the first leg, but it was ultimately proved to be futile after he unfortunately gave away the free-kick that led to Thailand’s goal.

Safee Sali - 3/10

The 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup hero managed to score a goal against Singapore but had a poor tournament overall. In the three matches he started in (Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam), Safee struggled to impose himself in matches and was hardly in dangerous situations where he could trouble the goalkeeper (see below). He was dropped for the final but did come on as a substitute in both legs.

Amri Yahyah - 6/10

Always running at defenders, Amri was the key player that linked up the midfield and attack. He also almost scored the goal of the tournament against Thailand in the group stages.

Abdul Manaf Mamat - 1/10

Despite scoring more goals (6) than Safee (3) and Norshahrul (2) and one less goal than Amri (7) in the M-League last season, the Terengganu striker was at the bottom of the pecking order amongst the four forwards. He saw only 36 minutes of game time and failed to register a single shot throughout the tournament.

(Photos: asiana.my)